The Notre Dame women's basketball program touches on numerous different areas that come together to create mature young women that are forever part of the Fighting Irish family. This idea of "shaping the total person" comes from the notion that student-athletes are molded, not only by their successes on the court, but also by their accomplishments off the court.
When it comes to athletic achievement and player development, virtually no women's basketball program in the country can equal Notre Dame's success. Under the guidance of Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw and one of the nation's elite coaching staffs, the Fighting Irish have produced no fewer than 12 All-Americans, with at least one All-America player coming from all five court positions. Collectively, Notre Dame has emerged as a powerhouse in women's basketball, advancing to nine NCAA Sweet Sixteens, three NCAA Final Fours and taking home the 2001 national championship, while boasting a winning percentage of nearly 73 percent since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96.
In the classroom, the Fighting Irish have achieved similar lofty results, with seven Notre Dame players earning Academic All-America honors, including 2001 Academic All-American of the Year Ruth Riley, and Dr. Carol Lally Shields, a 1979 Notre Dame graduate who was inducted into the Academic All-America Hall of Fame in 2011. What's more, Fighting Irish players have earned BIG EAST All-Academic Team honors more than 90 times during the program's BIG EAST membership.
Notre Dame's academic success can be traced to its unique Academic Services for Student-Athletes program, which employs counselors, tutors and other academic advisors to help student-athletes reach their potential (and beyond) in the classroom. The program also starts from the moment a student-athlete sets foot on campus, with the one-of-a-kind First Year of Studies curriculum that allows new students to sample numerous fields of study and determine what academic path best suits their career goals.
Once a student-athlete determines that career path, they have the opportunity to mesh their Academic Services support with that of the Office of Student Welfare and Development, which helps enrich a student-athlete's college experience through community service projects, life skills such as resume writing, job interview preparation and time management. The Office of Student Welfare and Development also was ranked as one of the nation's top programs in 2000.
Another aspect of a student-athlete's development at Notre Dame is their physical growth. Much like their academic pursuits, student-athletes are quickly immersed in a combined strength & conditioning and sports nutrition program that is overseen through the Fighting Irish Sports Performance Division, among the first of its kind at any college in the nation. The strength & conditioning component involves not only muscle-building exercises, but also developing core strength, flexibility, agility and speed, taking place inside the state-of-the-art 25,000-square foot Haggar Fitness Complex. The sports nutrition plan, highlighted by the Fighting Irish Athletics Training Table, allows student-athletes to learn the value of good eating habits and how those can benefit them, not only during their playing careers, but throughout their lives.
While no student-athlete plans on an injury, Notre Dame is more than equipped to deal with such events with a highly knowledgeable sports medicine staff that has more than 225 years of combined experience. Using some of the most modern medical technology and facilities available, including the 8,300 square-foot Loftus Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center, the Fighting Irish staff has the ability to treat virtually any injury on-site and develop a recovery schedule that will get the student-athlete healed and back on the court in a timely manner.
From the time a Notre Dame student-athlete opens her first college textbook or sets foot on the Purcell Pavilion court for her first practice, to the moment she walks across the stage at Notre Dame Stadium to receive her diploma, and on to all of the precious moments in her life after college, she is not alone. That's why we're proud to say that being a Fighting Irish women's basketball player isn't just about a decision for the next four years of her life, but rather it's a choice ... a choice of a lifetime.